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Maryna Hordiienko Explains How She Became the Showrunner of What If

By March 18, 2022No Comments

At Underknown, we love to add talented new faces to our team but we always recognize the long-time contributions of our pros as well! Maryna Hordiienko has been an Underknown mainstay since 2017. This VFX expert has worked her way up from Video Editor to Showrunner of What If and shows no signs of slowing down.

How did you get hired by Underknown?

“Steve Hulford, the CEO of Underknown, and Peter Schmiedchen, VP of production and the voice of What If, interviewed me and said they wanted to be bigger than National Geographic, and I believed them. Two years from that time, we did become bigger than National Geographic online, which was amazing to see all of that progress.”

How did you get to showrun What If?

“I think the combination of me understanding the show and being here for so long. And I personally also love space and all the science stuff, sci-fi stuff. That kind of got me to [showrun] What If.”

Maryna explains that loving the show and understanding its audience are the key to producing highly engaging videos. Her passion for educational content was the primary driver of her career growth at Underknown. Maryna is also a great manager. Showcasing leadership skills, high organization and being a strong communicator are also necessary skills for managing a team of editors, writers and researchers.

What are your most memorable videos that you created while working as an editor?

“I think the first one would be ‘What If the Earth Was Flat?’. The first time we did it was in 2018 when the show launched. It was one of the first videos we made. Two years later, we decided to redo the original. It’s the same story but totally new visuals. When you compare the old flat Earth to the new flat Earth there’s [such a big difference]. It not only shows how I grew, but how the show grew. The last ones I edited myself [that were] the also-memorable ‘What If Russia Started a War?’ and ‘What If You Were in Ukraine Right Now?’. At Underknown, we strive to educate people and show them the world in a different way, and I feel like that’s exactly what we did with the Ukraine videos.”

What does “What If” have in store for us in the near future?

“I’m right now working on how to tailor our videos better to Snapchat and YouTube. Those are two different audiences. Snapchat prefers more extreme body topics. Our YouTube viewers love space and the big questions. That’s what I’m working on. Little changes in format to tailor it to the platform.”

What would be your recommendation to aspiring video editors?

“Keep learning. You have to learn all the time because new things come, new plug-ins come in, new ways of editing. Try being efficient. There’s so many ways people don’t know about how to be quick in Premiere. Try new things all the time!”

We also asked Maryna’s manager, Peter, what he believes made Maryna the best candidate to run our biggest show.

Peter said: “Maryna has always been our most technically talented editor, always using her skills to their full extent.  She has an amazing ability to teach others, and had already been running editing workshops here at Underknown. Add that to her meticulous nature, and I knew we could trust her to run our biggest show.”